Top 25 Highest-Paid Employees of New Canaan

Dr. David Abbey, Superintendent of Public Schools, tops list of highest-paid employees of New Canaan.

Dr. David Abbey, Superintendent of New Canaan Public Schools, who is retiring at the end of the school year, was the highest-paid employee of the town of New Canaan in 2011. Abbey, who started as the director of special education in 1987 and is currently in his ninth year as the chief of public schools, made $263,492 in salary last year. Mary Kolek, Deputy Superintendent of Public Schools was next, earning $191,289.

Jeb Walker, former First Selectman, did not make it into the Top 25. Walker earned $113,375.22 in 2011.

As is custom, a number of employees of the police and fire departments made the list. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi says you can't put a dollar figure on what they do for the town.

"There's always that possibility the police and fire department will encounter something unbelievably difficult and put their life on the line because of that," said Mallozzi. "The truth is, at any given time, they are going to put themselves in harm's way on our behalf. In the end, they get paid because they're doing something that I don't think everyone of us could do or wants to do."

2011 Top-25 Highest-Paid Employees of Town of New Canaan

1. David Abbey Superintendent of  Public Schools $263,492.00 2. Mary Kolek Deputy Superintendent of Public Schools $191,289.00 3. Steve Swerdlick Assist. Superintendent of Public Schools $186,715.00 4. Bryan Luizzi NCHS Principal $173,966.00 5. Darlene Pianka Director of Special Education $165,111.00 6. William Ferri Police Lieutenant $164,028.31 7. Greg Macedo Saxe Middle School Principal $159,973.00 8. Jason Ferraro Police Sergeant $159,373.92 9. Doug Farrenkoph NCHS Teacher & Dir. After School Programs $159,354.35 10. Eugene Tiani Fire Captain $157,327.30 11.  Jill Correnty West School Principal $155,755.00 12. Alexandra Potts East School Principal $154,605.00 (tie) Joanne Rocco South School Principal $154,605.00 14. Joseph Meehan
Director of Finance and Operations
$154,298.00 15. Jay Egan
NCHS Athletic Director
$152,830.46 16. James George
Police Lieutenant
$149.166.12 17. Robert Miller
Director Information & Comm. Technologies
$147,823.00 18. Alan Sneath
Director of Visual & Performing Arts
$147,273.00 19. Ari Rothman
NCHS Assistant Principal $147,173.00 20. Lawrence Sullivan
NCHS Assistant Principal
$147,073.00 21. Mary Ann DeFelice
Special Education Coordinator $143,590.00 22. Carole Pakkala
Special Education Coordinator
$143,490.00 23. Linda Spenard
Saxe Middle School Assistant Principal
$143,390.00 24. Lizette D'Amico
K-8 World Languages/K-12 Coordinator
$143,190.00 25. Michael Baker
Fire Lieutenant

Note: Alexandra Potts and Joanne Rocco each made $154,605, placing them 12th in wages earned.

Veteran lieutenant William Ferri was the highest-paid employee of the New Canaan Police Department, earning $164,028.31 in gross pay. That number includes salary, overtime, and side jobs.

Source: Town of New Canaan and Board of Education.


J Bauer February 13, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Dennis Walcott, the Chancellor of the NYC school system was paid $213,000. I guess on one hand, you could say that our superintendent is overpaid on a relative basis given the hundreds of schools and the huge complexity of the NYC school system that the Chancellor oversees. Or, the results-oriented person, can look at the miserable quality of public education in NYC and conclude that David Abbey's pay is justified based on the results in New Canaan. That said, from doing a quick google search, it looks like the average salary for a CT superintendent is about $160k. I do not begrudge Mr. Abbey his pay - I just point out the fact that New Canaan pays well and as a result should expect exceptional results. That said, seems like the pay of all of the folks on this list could use to be frozen for a couple of years. Especially since their counterparts in the private sector have had just that happen, in many cases for many years now.
CW February 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Employees of the Town of New Canaan are certainly very, very well compensated for their services. And what the salary data doesn't reveal are the enormous earned pension benefits for each of these employees. The taxpayers are not only paying generous salaries, but they will be paying very high pensions for many years to come after these individuals retire. With the wrenching adjustments made to pay and pensions in the private sector over the last 5 years, it is time to comprehensively review the gilded pay and pensions of public employees at both the town and state levels.
JL February 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
every new hire should get a 401k plan like the rest of us, not a pension for life. the town can still make an attractive offer without bankrupting us in the future.
olderbutwiser February 13, 2012 at 06:37 PM
it is interesting that even in New Canaan the taxpayers are starting to be aware of the huge pensions and benefits- as well as the very competitive pay- of the public sector. This used to be a "blue collar" issue but now people realize that every person on this list is a Millionaire when you do the present value of their pension- not to mention health care. I hope that something is done to adjust this.
S Tadik February 13, 2012 at 07:35 PM
If the town can install extravagant $500K sidewalks to match the $500K Main St repair and the New O'Dea Road to Norwalk, why not create a sinking fund for all these salaries and benefits? At least the people will function during the winter and future generations can get accustomed to increasing financial payments as more sidewalks are installed as envisioned by the Plan of Conservation and Development from Planning and Zoning. Happy Trails.
Glen K Dunbar February 13, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Umm. I see ONE name in the list I know and respect and wish Him luck and am glad He gets a nice paycheck. As for the rest. Umm... I not even make almost 10% of that and I bet you all a nickel these same people would try and give me the boloney of how lucky I am and how they wish they had it as easy as I do. Umm... Stinks being poor. They do not even do much of anything either. where is my bail out ? GLEN
NC Proud February 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM
I noticed two fire department employees on the list. I have always been curious as to why NC has a partially paid fire department and Darien has a volunteer department. Any insight would be appreciated.
nyyankees February 14, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Yes, there are fire fighters on the list, but they have earned the extra income by electing to work more shifts, and thus have benefitted from overtime rules that have been negotiated. Are we certain that Darien is getting good coverage from their volunteers during the daytime? In New Canaan, you know that if you have a need for the fire department, there is no delay in their response, waiting for members to show up to the fire department, and then getting to the scene of a fire or accident. New Canaan has always been very proactive with the use of mutual aid, water supply and tanker shuttles and pre-planning. New Canaan is also very fortunate to have paramedics riding 24/7 on NCVAC. Darien uses paramedic intercepts with Stamford and Norwalk Hospitals when that level of care is needed. New Canaan used to do that, probably 12-15 years ago. New Canaan's emergency services are very headsup compared to Darien. So bottom line, Darien is much more frugal in funding their FDs and EMTs, but New Canaan's response, in both areas of emergencies, is much more efficient.
Sam February 14, 2012 at 12:41 AM
There is one person on this list making over $200k. Sorry to say that in New Canaan this is hardly a list of the wealthiest people in town. If you want high quality education, you are going to have to pay for the best people. Who is more deserving of a decent wage than educators and people that put themselves in harms way to keep us safe?! When the economy is booming, the people on this list do not get big bonuses like many of our town residents do. I agree that we should have high expectations and accountability for our public employees, but we should also show gratitude and respect for their hard work and dedication to our town!
mary parker February 14, 2012 at 03:19 AM
WOW, that's a lot of money being paid out but the article forgot to mention the amount of years these people have been working for the Town of New Canaan. Dr. Abbey according to this article has been employed for 24 years. William Ferri and James George have been around since I was a teenager and their salaries include side jobs that are paid by private companies and people who need police for their events such as weddings or private parties. These people earned their salaries. I think the yearly salary percent increase should be lowered. A 3 or 4 percent increase every year is a lot. A person that makes $100,000.00 a year gets a $3,000.00 to $4,000.00 raise for that year. That's a big raise. I think that when these people retire and someone is hired to replace them a good deal of thinking should be done to adjust the position starting pay salary and raise increase per year.
S Tadik February 14, 2012 at 03:21 AM
As you requested, Hope: "Mr. O'Dea's practice includes representing buyers, sellers, developers and financial institutions in complex real-estate transactions. He also represents clients in probate litigation in courts throughout Connecticut. A frequent author and speaker, Mr. O'Dea has earned the highest rating of AV from the peer-reviewed legal directory, Martindale-Hubbell."
mary parker February 14, 2012 at 03:37 AM
As far as the fire department and volunteers. My best friend was involved in the volunteer program here in New Canaan 30 years ago and I used to drive her to fires at night to watch them work. Back then these volunteers cared and showed up to fires. Back then any one who wanted to join the department was welcomed. Then it became a club that if you weren't liked they wouldn't vote you in. Then some of the volunteers wouldn't show up for fires. Only the devoted volunteers would show up. So that is why we have paid fire fighters now. At least we know someone will show up. Try to volunteer now. I was told by some members not to even try because I am a female. Pretty sad considering I am as strong as most of them and would be devoted.
Glen K Dunbar February 14, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I still say the rich get richer by wiping their feet on us (me in particular) It is not what You know but who you know that counts. Only ONE name on that list do I resepct and I Love that guy like a Grandfather. The rest, horse feathers. Why can't I taste the good like for once. GLEN
J Bauer February 14, 2012 at 01:34 PM
There is no doubt that we attempt to hire the best and retain the best in New Canaan. Part of that is about pay and part of that is about working in a great community or in great schools with involved parents and hard-working students. However, has anyone actually stepped back to consider how much money it takes to recruit the best school administrators or the best police in this economic environment? There are hundreds of great administrators in undesireable districts all over the tri-state area that would be thrilled at a chance to come here. There is no doubt that our town employees deserve to be paid well for their efforts, but to be paid a 30, 40, 50% premium to what the going rate is for a highly qualified person is just imprudent. This is the same mentality that leads people to say "we can afford it" for whatever dumb project that comes up. As far as the wealthiest people in town and how they are compensated, what does that have to do with it? Do we pay our contractors and gardeners based on how much money each of us earns or do we pay them based on the fair market rate for their services? NYC did an analysis of the average police retirement pension & healthcare benefits and determined the present value of those benefits is $1.9mm. I imagine NC's is similar, so while they do not get big bonuses like some residents in good times, they do get early retirement and millions of dollars of retirement benefits!
Glen K Dunbar February 14, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I should quickly note for Mr. Stuart. I already see Psychologist, Psychiatrist (yea, take medicine too). What I need is not counseling so I can love and embrace poverty but what I need is a break in life...MY bail out. I respect you all opinions. We all can express what we want. But, what I state is FACT. No disrespect...but You folks need to wake up and smell the coffee GLEN
sebastian dangerfield February 15, 2012 at 07:06 AM
ny yankees Just to correct you---at its furthest point, darien is no more than 4.8 miles away from the closest hospital. New canaan is as much as 13 miles away. Hence the different approaches to use of paramedics. basic care is always provided initially by either an EMT or a Paramedic. The steps are the same.-- But in either case, the responsibility of an ambulatory team is to stabilize and transport. The closer you are to a hospital--the less need for paramedics, since the basic care would be applied. IN this day and age---we can always find reasons to spend money via scare tactics and amplifying the need for various services. A paramedic is needed in New Canaan owing to its location---however fire staffing is a tenuous need in New Canaan---fire safety is taught similarly to volunteers and professionals. You are reaching if you want to describe paid fire personnel a must have----the skill set is the same....the dedication is the same in both towns.
Kerry Smith February 15, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Ms. Parker: As a 12-year member of the New Canaan Fire Co., I can tell you that we need all the volunteers we can get -- men AND women. We have had several female members during my tenure and we have welcomed them all and provided training, gear, etc. in a professional environment.We're very proud of our most recent female member, Kat Atkinson. She joined 3 years ago with no prior firefighting experience. She filled out a simple application, met with our nominating committee to make sure she understood the time commitment, training regimen, etc., and she was subsequently voted into membership. Kat was an extremely dedicated volunteer and what she lacked in prior experience she made up for in attitude and eagerness to learn. She attended drills, and we sent her to state certification training. She rode out on the trucks, worked at calls, and was considered an equal and valuable member of the fire company. In fact, her involvement as a volunteer made her realize that she wanted to pursue a career in firefighting. With the skills she gained as a volunteer in New Canaan, Kat was hired last year a full-time career firefighter in Chattanooga, Tenn. I encourage anyone interested in joining as a volunteer to visit www.newcanaanfire.com. Click the "Volunteering" link to see the eligibility requirements and download an application form. I can tell you from personal experience, that it is very rewarding.
mary parker February 21, 2012 at 06:35 AM
Kerry Smith: Glad to hear you are a 12yr. member. And great for Kat. I am just stating a fact that 3 volunteer firefighters told me that I would not be voted in because I was a female, 6 years ago. Maybe now things have changed, I hope so because women can do as much as men in most cases. I hope things have changed but I am talking 25 years ago about the "CLUB" and 6 years ago being told not to try.
suzanne jonker February 21, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Mary: My husband was the Chief of NCFC NO. 1 from 2001-2008, and I have to say, that type of thing was never tolerated under his leadership. There were female members of the department and they were treated with respect and as equals. Kerry, thanks for bringing Kat's story to everyone's attention. I think she would be a great feature for The Patch, now that she's on the job in TN.
Stephen N .Parrett February 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Mary; Before Kat joined, we had a female member named Sarah Landi...She was voted in and trained shoulder to shoulder with us. She resigned due to a back injury. This month brought us another female applicant and we have posted her application and will vote on her membership in March. "The Club" doesn't exist. As the President of New Canaan Fire Company #1, I can say honestly, that behavior is not tolerated!
NC Proud February 21, 2012 at 11:40 PM
With all the fire volunteers, why is it necessary to have paid firefighters? I also understand that Vista has a volunteer department, what makes NC so different that we need paid firefighters? Why not look into combining forces with Darien?
Hope February 22, 2012 at 12:42 AM
No, we/you/the town was looking to expand the fire hydrants up in the Northern / Easterner part of town! Add in a new sub station...sounds great to me. Add in EMS and we are all set. People first...things second. :)
whynewcanaanwhy February 22, 2012 at 01:59 PM
NC Proud: Don't you think we would have an all-volunteer fire department if we had adequate coverage from volunteers, especially during the daytime hours. Residents have to have jobs and often commute to NYC. It is not as if the town said, "Let's spend as much as possible, especially on benefits and hire as many paid firefighters as we can." We still have volunteer firefighters, but the town figured out long ago that they needed to first hire paid drivers and then full-time firefighters. We are very fortunate that we have a combination department-paid and volunteer firefighters that gets the job done. There are many regulations mandated by the federal government that firefighters must employ when fighting a fire- two-in, two-out, so you need at least 4 personnel to fight a fire. This ensures their safety. The price we pay in New Canaan only matters until you have to call 911
NC Proud February 22, 2012 at 11:10 PM
WhyNewCanaanWhy - I guess we are not as lucky as those in Vista and Darien. Our residents have to work during the day and theirs don't. I should have realized the difference sooner.
Hope February 23, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Well Noroton FD is looking for private donations of 1 mil. Perhaps you can contribute?


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